Today I want to write about something which I personally think is really important, and that’s using the term “Banter” as an excuse for bullying. Even at university, I have heard on countless occasions, people saying “It’s just banter” when they’ve clearly been bullying someone else, and this frustrates me on so many levels.
“Banter” itself is defined as “the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks. e.g ‘there was much good-natured banter'”. So why is it that there are people who just use it to cover up the horrible things they say to other people?
It shocks me even more that I’ve witnessed this first hand at university. In my halls of residence, my former neighbor was a guy (he has since dropped out of uni) and he was the clear definition of a “lad”. Someone who thinks they’re cool, and he was probably in the “popular crowd” at school. He was so full of confidence that whenever someone tried to stand up to him, he would laugh at them for trying, and probably take the mick out of that person for too long. There is a girl in my flat who lives opposite me, and when they were together it was almost better to leave the room, because although they found their “jokes” hilarious, if they came to target you, you would just be left feeling embarrassed and wanting to leave out of the nearest exit.
Luckily for me, in some ways, I wasn’t usually at the other end of their “jokes” and their “banter”, but it has happened a couple of times. Now it’s not so bad, but it was easier to just keep myself to myself. Which really sucked, because I get along with the rest of my floor. Now, the problem really occurs when someone who has been at the other end of this bullying takes a stand to try and fight back. Usually this ends in laughing at this person, or things get taken a step too far. On one occasion, the guy I was just talking about was involved in a water fight with some other people in the building. One of the girls, who really doesn’t get along with him, challenged him to throw water at her, and I don’t think anyone thought he would. But he did. I wasn’t there on this particular event, but I know it happened because they always mock this girl behind her back and it absolutely sucks. It’s so childish.
The basic point of this blog post is that if you know that you are bullying someone, but just covering it up as “banter”, then you should really know better. There is really no point in doing so, and for a lot of people who have witnessed incidents like this, they will also know that it’s not “just banter”. If it was banter, then everyone involved would know that and it wouldn’t have to be clarified as “just banter”. Keep that in mind next time.